– Nutmeg (also known as pala in Indonesia) is one of the two spices – the other being mace – derived from several species of tree in the genus Myristica.
– The most important commercial species is Myristica fragrans, an evergreen tree
indigenous to the Banda Islands in the Moluccas (or Spice Islands) of Indonesia.
Myristica fragrans (chin. : 肉豆蔻 )
– Nutmeg is the seed of the tree, roughly egg-shaped and about 20 to 30 mm (0.8 to 1.2 in) long and 15 to 18 mm (0.6 to 0.7 in) wide, and weighing between 5 and 10 g (0.2 and 0.4 oz) dried,
– while mace is the dried “lacy” reddish covering or aril of the seed.
-The first harvest of nutmeg trees takes place 7–9 years after planting, and the trees reach full production after twenty years.
– Nutmeg is usually used in powdered form.
– This is the only tropical fruit that is the source of two different spices, obtained from different parts of the plant.
– Several other commercial products are also produced from the trees, including essential oils, extracted oleoresins, and nutmeg butter.
– The spicy nut contains fixed oil trimyristin and many essential volatile oils such as which gives a sweet aromatic flavor to nutmeg such as myristicin, elemicin, eugenol and safrole. The other volatile-oils are pinene, camphene, dipentene, cineole, linalool, sabinene, safrole, terpeniol.
– The active principles in nutmeg have many therapeutic applications in many traditional medicines as anti-fungal, anti-depressant, aphrodisiac, digestive, and carminative functions.
– This spice is a good source of minerals like copper, potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, zinc and magnesium.
– Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps control heart rate and blood pressure.
– Manganese and copper are used by the body as co-factors for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase.
– Iron is essential for red blood cell production and as a co-factor for cytochrome oxidases enzymes.
– It is also rich in many vital B-complex vitamins, including vitamin C, folic acid, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin A and many flavonoid anti-oxidants like beta-carotene and cryptoxanthin that are essential for optimum health.
– Pain Relief: One of the components of nutmeg is a compound similar to menthol, which has natural pain-relieving characteristics. Therefore, by adding nutmeg as a spice in your cooking, you can reduce associated pain from wounds, injuries, strains, and chronic inflammation from conditions like arthritis.
– Digestive Health: When you grind nutmeg into a powder, it retains its fiber content, which can stimulate the digestive process by promoting peristaltic motion in the smooth muscles of the intestine. Also, it induces the secretion of various gastric and intestinal juices that ease the digestive process. Since fiber can bulk up the bowel movements, it reduces the frequency and discomfort of constipation and other intestinal issues.
– Brain Health: One of the lesser known benefits of adding nutmeg in any variety to your diet are the various components of its essential oil, called myristicin and macelignan. These compounds have been proven to reduce the degradation of neural pathways and cognitive function that commonly afflicts people with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Studies have shown myristicin and macelignan slow those effects, and keep your brain functioning at a normal, healthy level.
– Detoxify the Body: Nutmeg acts as a tonic in many different ways, and therefore boosts the overall health of your body. More specifically, in terms of the liver and kidney where many of the toxins are stored and accumulated from the body, nutmeg can help eliminate them.
– It literally cleans those organs out of all the toxins that may be stored there from alcohol, drugs, pollution, food, or natural organic toxins. Furthermore, active ingredients in nutmeg help to dissolve kidney stones, and increase overall function and efficiency of the kidney and liver.
– Oral Health: In traditional medical applications, nutmeg was considered the king of spices when it came to oral health. The active antibacterial components of nutmeg means that it helps to fight conditions like halitosis, also known as bad breath. It kills the bacteria that causes this embarrassing condition, and generally boosts the immunity of your gums and teeth. This is why nutmeg and its extracts are commonly found in toothpastes and mouthwashes, particularly in organic or herbal varieties.
– Insomnia: For generations, nutmeg has been recommended as a home remedy for sleeplessness and insomnia. A pinch of nutmeg in warm milk always seemed to do the trick. Nutmeg has a high content of magnesium, an essential mineral in the body that reduces nerve tension, and even stimulates the release of serotonin which creates a feeling of relaxation or sedation. This serotonin is changed to melatonin in the brain, which is a sleep inducer, relieving people of their problems with insomnia and restlessness at night.
– Leukemia: Another of the lesser known qualities of nutmeg is its potential use against cancerous cells. Studies have shown that a certain methanolic compound in nutmeg and its essential oil can actually induce cell death (apoptosis) in leukemia cells, thereby stopping the spread and metastasis of this terrible variety of cancer that commonly afflicts children
– Skin Health: Although the exact mechanism is not fully understood, herbal and traditional medicines have long used nutmeg to boost the appearance and health of your skin. Most commonly, it is applied as paste mixed with water, or even honey, which is also great for skin care.
– It can help to reduce inflammation and irritation of the skin, promote hydration and a smooth appearance, as well as reduce the signs and marks from pox, boils, and acne.
– Blood Pressure and Circulation: The mineral content of nutmeg means that it is valuable in terms of maintaining organ function. Potassium is a vasodilator, which relaxes blood vessels, thereby reducing blood pressure and lowering the strain on the cardiovascular system.
– Furthermore, it facilitates the uptake of nutrients from food, making digestion and efficient and speedy process.
– The calcium found in nutmeg can boost the health of your bones by contributing to repair and growth, while relieving symptoms of osteoporosis.
– Finally, the iron content can boost your red blood cell count and reduce your chances of developing symptoms of iron deficiency, also known as anemia.